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Rare primary in Orchard Park pits incumbent over newcomer

There hasn't been a Republican primary for supervisor in Orchard Park in 20 years.

And rather than two party insiders battling it out Tuesday, this primary is between a retired dentist who is the incumbent and a contractor who has party leaders scratching their heads because they don't know much about him.

Supervisor Patrick J. Keem and Edward M. Shanahan have some things in common: they own or have owned businesses, have worked in the construction industry, grew up in Cheektowaga and never set out to be political.

But then the stories diverge.

Keem , 67, the founder and former owner of a dental office in East Aurora who moved to Orchard Park in 2005, is seeking a second term and he has the endorsement of the Orchard Park GOP Committee.

Shanahan, 32, the owner of several contracting businesses, a compost site in Buffalo and a property management business, survived the GOP committee's challenge of the signatures on his petition. He sees his campaign as his way of applying for the job.

There is no Democratic candidate, so the primary winner is the presumed winner in the November general election.

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Keem said he has managed the town finances well, borrowing money for the Green Lake dam project at a low 2.44 percent interest rate. The dam project was completed under his watch and the town is moving ahead with the long-discussed community center.

Shanahan said he does not like the way the Town Board responds to residents, particularly at Town Board meetings.

"Just the way they treat the people, the residents, the people they work for, is unacceptable to me," he said.

"I think we're very respectful when people speak at our meetings," Keem said.

Shanahan did not file financial disclosure reports, which are required by law to be filed 32 days and 11 days before the primary, until Friday. He said he has contributed $8,000 of his own money and spent $2,524 on the campaign. He has some campaign signs and literature, and polished videos on his website.

And he ran afoul of an unwritten rule in Orchard Park politics: Party leaders have a long-standing agreement not to erect political signs to reduce clutter. Shanahan said no one told him about that policy, and a number of his signs have disappeared.  Town Building Inspector Andrew Geist said he has asked residents to move a few signs back from the right of way and he removed one after it was returned to the right of way.

Keem has filed the required reports, and they show he has spent just over $11,000 on his campaign as of Sept. 1. He raised about $10,000, and had about $7,600 left over from his last campaign.

Keem's name will be on the Independence, Conservative and Reform parties lines in November, while Shanahan will appear on the Orchard Park's Voice party.

 

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